King of Coins

We shot the King of Coins on the same day as the Queen of Coins, as you may notice by the overlap in the bounteous feast in the photos. They’re similar cards in feel (at least to me), the main difference being that the Queen is internally concerned (abundance and protection of the self, the creative, the home, the fields) where the King is more external (abundance and protection of the kingdom, the era, the land).

King of Coins 1.2

King of Coins 1.2

I often feel as though the King and Queen of Coins are like the less dramatic versions of the Emperor and Empress in the Major Arcana- more so than the royalty of the other suits- primarily because the suit of coins is associated with Earth, and the Emperor and Empress are both (to me) cards of the self writ large- the physical self, the actions thereof, and the world surrounding.

King of Coins 2.3

King of Coins 2.3

I’m not thrilled with how these turned out, but I think they’ll do ok. I do like some of the angles I was able to shoot- it was difficult, because immediately out of the frame on pretty much all sides is furniture and rugs, which I was trying very hard to not get in the frame. I also always try with the Kings to shoot Stephanie from more traditionally “masculine” angles- whether we’re aware of it or not, we tend to shoot women from above, and men from below, which makes women seem smaller and more delicate, and men seem larger and over-leaning. With the Kings, especially since Stephanie is petite, I try to shoot her as large and spaciously as I can. I think that does come across especially in the first shot of this series.

King of Coins 3.3

King of Coins 3.3

Because we were shooting at my house, and on my floor, I had a very difficult time convincing my cats that Stephanie was not, in fact, sitting around waiting to pet them. By the end, it was getting to be more trouble than it was worth to keep Gandalf out of the shots, and I decided it was entirely appropriate to have both a cat and a wizard in the King of Coins, so there he is, looking at the viewer with no little disdain.

King of Coins 4.1

King of Coins 4.1

Check out the full Flickr set here, and all our images plus new interpretations on our website, blackwidowhoney.com. Also, stop by our Facebook site and give us a like!

Queen of Coins

Queen of Coins 1.2

Queen of Coins 1.2

The Queen of Coins was a fun, and relatively easy shoot, and thank goodness for it. We did have some trouble with costuming, because we’re getting to the point in the cards where we’ve used pretty much everything in both our closets (and some of our friends’) at least once, but Stephanie found this green dress online, and I think it worked out very well.

Queen of Coins 2.2

Queen of Coins 2.2

The Queen of Coins is a card of abundance and wealth and plenty, and we decided to go the literal route, and had a feast. My backyard has vines galore, as does my porch, so we were able to set out a nice spread with greens abounding. With the late summer afternoon sun, I think it really turned out to be a beautiful setting.

Queen of Coins 3.1

Queen of Coins 3.1

I don’t have a lot to say about this card, other than that I’m very pleased with how it came out. I think the editing went well, and I think the poses are good, the lighting was excellent. I’m glad that we saved the suit of coins for last, it feels like a good note on which to have finished the minors.

Queen of Coins 4.2

Queen of Coins 4.2

Check out Stephanie’s blog about this shoot here, or our facebook page here, or our actual live site here! Full flickr set is here as always.

Queen of Coins 5.1

Queen of Coins 5.1

Knight of Coins

Knight of Coins 1.3

Knight of Coins 1.3

The Knight of Coins, like all the knights, was a little difficult to initially decide on how to capture. Knights, to me, anyway, are all about movement- the transmission of information, messages, change in the air. I felt like we captured that very well with the other three knights, actually, but it did take some thought, and this knight, since it’s the knight of coins, of earth, seemed like even more of a stretch.

Knight of Coins 2.3

Knight of Coins 2.3

For this knight, we decided that the idea of motion might best be conveyed through the idea of discovery. The suit of coins or pentacles is all about wealth and prosperity, and so the discovery of unexpected or unlooked for resources seemed appropriate to the theme.

Knight of Coins 3.2

Knight of Coins 3.2

I enjoyed shooting this card, because it was a beautiful day and a beautiful park, and it was nice to just get outside and do something creative. Shooting these last few coins has really driven home for me how bad it is mentally and physically to be stuck in an office all day, every day. I don’t tend to think of myself as “outdoorsy”, but I grew up in the country with space and the outdoors as a matter of fact, and living in an urban environment is hard on me in sneaky ways.

Knight of Coins 4.3

Knight of Coins 4.3

I’m pleased with how this set turned out- they feel very woodlandy, very sort of elf-in-the-trees. Maybe not Tolkien-esque, but definitely like something out of a fairy-tale adventure. You can see what Stephanie thought here, see the full Flickr set here, or check out our website for the whole project here.

Knight of Coins 5.2

Knight of Coins 5.2

Page of Coins

The Page of Coins is probably the most dangerous card we’ve shot in a while, in terms of “the photographer may break her neck” possibilities. As with most of the other “don’t try this at home, kids” shots, this involved me needing to be higher in the air than Stephanie, so that I could shoot down toward her.

Page of Coins 1.3

Page of Coins 1.3

In this case, we wanted to convey a sense of playing and youth, since the pages are typically “younger” cards, but I also wanted to make sure that we could see the ground, since the suit of Coins or Pentacles is traditionally associated with the element of Earth. We hit upon the idea of a jungle gym fairly early on, but
we live in an urban enough area that it was somewhat difficult to hunt one down; finally I remembered this climbing structure in the Ohlone Park near my office, which conveniently also had a second rope climbing structure, so we had options.

Ohlone Park Jungle Gym

Ohlone Park Jungle Gym

It was damp when we shot, which was what truly lent an air of “might injure” to the climbing- I’ve always liked jungle gyms and climbing things, so I had no problem getting to the top and wedging myself in. The more difficult bits were in trying to peer through a viewfinder, tell Stephanie where to move, and lean around while not losing my precarious balance on the slippery metal pipes. It wasn’t a traditional jungle gym, there weren’t a lot of joints to anchor yourself against, just a lot of wet, smooth, metal.

Page of Coins 2.1

Page of Coins 2.1

Nonetheless, they came off fine, and the rope climbing structure was much easier to navigate, and also a lot of fun. This shoot actually reminded me how much I like being active, and how much I hate “adult” forms of exercise (running, the treadmill, etc). It’s exactly the sort of reminder appropriate to this card- I like climbing, I like playing, I like a physical challenge. It’s when I feel obligated or routinized that I begin to resent my own physicality.

Page of Coins 3.3

Page of Coins 3.3

I’m pleased with the photos, overall- the second structure made me really want to shoot Stephanie as Ariadne or some such, because it looked so much like a web. We’ll see if it comes up in any of the Major Arcana, but as of this moment, I can’t think what we’d do with it. Still, it was a good site.

Page of Coins 4.2

Page of Coins 4.2

Check out Stephanie’s take here, or the full Flickr set here, or our actual website itself here.

Ten of Coins

Finally- the Ten of Coins! *sound of trumpets blaring*

Ten of Coins 1.2

Ten of Coins 1.2

The Ten of Coins is the card that made us plow through the rest of the coins in about a month- Stephanie very much wanted to do it around her birthday, and do it with her friend who would be visiting for said birthday in the card. It was a real push to make it happen, but we did! And I do think it adds to the symbolism of the card, to have made that work out.

Ten of Coins 2.2

Ten of Coins 2.2

The Ten of Coins and the Ten of Cups, as I said in my post about the Ten of Cups, are somewhat interchangeable to me- I’m very much an earth sign, so I don’t draw lines between one kind of abundance and another, really. It’s like the old joke about “If you think money can’t buy you happiness, you’re doing it wrong”- sure, money in of itself is emotionally valueless, but you can use it to buy food, and to treat your friends, and to have space where you can have people over, and and and. All good and happy-making things.

Ten of Coins 3.3

Ten of Coins 3.3

For this card, we went the feasting route- we invited a bunch of friends, kind of assuming not everyone would make it, and then when everyone did, we realized we had nine people! Fine, we thought, we’ll just have Stephanie hold two coins, that’ll work, and then a last friend strolled through the door, completely without any foreknowledge of the gathering. Thanks to serendipity, we had ten!

Ten of Coins 4.1

Ten of Coins 4.1

Overall, I’m pleased with this card, though I wish it had been less backlit. I tried to mitigate that in the editing process, but I’m not sure how successful I was. Nonetheless, I think the spirit of the card is good, and everyone looks great. The food was good, fun was had, and all in all, this was one of our nicest shoots, right up there with the Six of Cups.

Ten of Coins 5.2

Ten of Coins 5.2

You can see the full set here, visit us on facebook here, see Stephanie’s blog about this shoot here, or check out our actual website!

Nine of Coins

Nine of Coins 1.3

Nine of Coins 1.3

The Nine of Coins was one of those cards that Stephanie and I did not agree on how to interpret; in this case, pretty much at all. But I think that we succeeded in creating images that allow for either of our interpretations, which is good.

Nine of Coins 2.2

Nine of Coins 2.2

We shot in the Oakland Rose Garden for this, which we’d used before for the Ace of Cups, and it was as beautiful as always. We also went with a sort of medieval-y feel for it, which I think works well. She wore a dress I made years ago, and while not at all historically accurate, it’s pretty, which was the main goal.

Nine of Coins 3.2

Nine of Coins 3.2

To me, the Nine of Coins is a card of wealth and pleasure, but all to be enjoyed within certain limits. It’s the card of the courtesan, of the gilded cage. It can be very enjoyable, sure; there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the luxuries of life, or the creature comforts provided for you. But you should always be aware of the strings attached, and the price that is being paid.

Nine of Coins 4.2

Nine of Coins 4.2

I have two complaints about this card- first, the sun was too bright, and Stephanie’s skin plus the lace on the dress were too pale. In some of the shots it makes for a sort of glaring white blur, which is unfortunate. The other complaint is similar; we were still using the mardi gras coins and my foil coins, and they just picked up a little too much sun. They’re washed out in some of the shots, and it’s hard to tell that they’re coins at all.

Nine of Coins 5.2

Nine of Coins 5.2

All that said, I do think it turned out to be a nice set of images. Very pretty, and with some depth to them, if you look for it. You can read Stephanie’s take here, or visit our website here. Full Flickr set is available as always here.

Nine of Coins 6.3

Nine of Coins 6.3

Eight of Coins

The Eight of Coins was a bit of a difficult one in deciding how we were going to portray it. Unlike some of the others, we didn’t have any disagreements about what we wanted to convey, but rather were struggling with how to represent it without repeating too much of any of our prior images.

Eight of Coins 1.2

Eight of Coins 1.2

The Eight of Coins is sort of a further build upon the Three of Coins, only instead of being in the learning phase, we are now in the practicing phase. Hard work equals eventual success for the Eight, but only if you put in the effort.

Eight of Coins 2.1

Eight of Coins 2.1

We wanted to build on the use of crafting and textiles that we had used in the Three, but didn’t really have a floor loom, or other way to indicate a specific upgrade in skill. Instead we ended up going with cross stitch, and lots of it- pieces Stephanie was working on, pieces I was working on, and the coins.

Eight of Coins 3.3

Eight of Coins 3.3

I think it turned out well enough- it’s not one of our standout works, but I like it. You can read Stephanie’s take here, or visit our website here. Full Flickr set is available as always here.

Eight of Coins 4.2

Eight of Coins 4.2

Seven of Coins

Seven of Coins 1.1

Seven of Coins 1.1

The Seven of Coins was yet another of the coins where we agreed on the idea and interpretation, but when it came to actual execution, we were left kind of scratching our heads. The seven is a card of work in progress, of projects budding, and crops coming in, but completion still being a ways off- generally it’s shown as a person in a field, watching as the crops grow. However, we were a little short on sprouting fields, and also short on coins that would be big enough to show in a shot that wide.

Seven of Coins 2.2

Seven of Coins 2.2

So, we turned to the garden of every apartment dweller- house plants! My place does actually have a small backyard, to which I had exiled many of my prolific spider and jade plants, and so it was pretty easy to set them up as our “field” to be tended. They legitimately did need some pruning anyway, so it felt fair to use them! Stephanie ended up with a spider plant off-shoot as a direct result of this shot, which seemed auspicious.

Seven of Coins 3.2

Seven of Coins 3.2

I’m pretty satisfied with these shots. They’re not the most exciting we’ve done, but not everything is going to be the Most Exciting Shoot. These are solid, I think- the light is good, there’s a sense of anticipation, and they come off just fine.

Seven of Coins 4.1

Seven of Coins 4.1

For Stephanie’s take, see here, and don’t forget to check out the full Flickr set and our website, blackwidowhoney.com!

Six of Coins

Six of Coins 1.1

Six of Coins 1.1

The Six of Coins was a kind of a tricky card to shoot- we were in a bit of a rush, and an essential element of the card is that we had to have at least two other people in the image as beggars/hangers-on to make our portrayal work. Fortunately, even though it was rather last minute, we were able to get our friend Zane (@thisistheZ) to agree to be a pair of hands, and then roped my long-suffering husband Kyle into being the other pair.

Six of Coins 2.2

Six of Coins 2.2

The six is another card that Stephanie and I tend to read a bit differently- I’ve always read it as pretty straight forward generosity and largess. The rich caring for the poor, the better-off giving alms. Whether the querent is on the giving or receiving end can vary depending on the spread, but I see it as charity and giving of wealth. Stephanie reads it more cautiously, and you can read her full take on it here. The imagery of the hands hanging on to her, and implying a certain force in their request, is from her understanding of the card, not mine.

Six of Coins 3.1

Six of Coins 3.1

It was dark, and so we couldn’t shoot outside. I also don’t really have bare walls, so we couldn’t shoot against one of those. So our best idea was to try and shoot with one of my “fancier” rugs as a backdrop. I also only wanted Zane and Kyle’s hands in the shot, so that they were more “anonymous recipient” instead of recognizable persons. All of that led to me on a chair for half the pics, repeatedly saying things like “ok, now, step back. No, your other foot’s still in. Back… more… ok. Hold it!”

Six of Coins 4.1

Six of Coins 4.1

You can even see my hand in one of the shots! Don’t forget to check out the full Flickr set here, and our website, Black Widow Honey. We’re also on Facebook, at facebook.com/blackwidowhoney.

Five of Coins

Four of Coins 1.1

Five of Coins 1.1

The Five of Coins is one of the few completely negative cards in the tarot, which made it interesting to shoot. While Stephanie and I sometimes differ on how to portray various cards, there is very little room for interpretive differences in the Five of Coins- it is just poverty, and destitution.

Four of Coins 2.2

Four of Coins 2.2

We knew we wanted to shoot around some abandoned buildings, because that is one of the other main themes of this card- being shut out, abandoned in the cold. Fortunately, we live very near Treasure Island, which is chock full of boarded up buildings and empty lots.

Five of Cups 3.2

Five of Cups 3.2

It was actually a really fun shoot- the light was great, we were entirely left alone, and we had basically a large photographer’s playground to shoot in. Just search “Treasure Island, CA” in google images, and you’ll turn up approximately a gajillion photos from every hipster and his yuppie cousin with a camera. They’re not wrong, though- it’s a great place to get a shot.

Five of Coins 4.2

Five of Coins 4.2

I’m really happy with how these turned out- I think we managed to capture a sort of believable poverty. It’s easy, when doing this sort of costumed, staged, setting for things, to take it too far, to make it a caricature. I wanted to avoid that, and I think we did.

Five of Coins 5.2

Five of Coins 5.2

Check out Stephanie’s blog about this shoot here, and the full set of photos here. Also remember to visit our facebook page and our website!

Five of Coins 6.1

Five of Coins 6.1